Debbie Stringham, July 13, 2005

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Debbie Stringham
Onboard NOAA Ship Fairweather
July 5 – 15, 2005

Mission: Hydrographic Survey
Geographical Area: North Pacific, Alaska
Date: July 13, 2005

Stringham photographing tsunami buoy recovery.
Stringham photographing tsunami buoy recovery.

Weather Data 

Location: in transit
Latitude: 52 44.1’N
Longitude: 156 45.3’W
Visibility: 10 nm
True Wind Speed: 10 kts.
True Wind Direction: 270
Sea Wave Height: none
Swell Wave Height: 6 ft.
Swell Wave Direction: 220
Sea Water Temperature: 11.0 C
Sea Level Pressure: 1008.0
Sky Description: partly cloudy
Dry Bulb Temperature: 14.0 C
Wet Bulb Temperature: 12.5 C

Operations in progress
Operations in progress

Science and Technology Log 

Last night, the ship received word that a tsunami buoy had gotten loose and needed to be retrieved in waters to the south. So, heading to the farthest waters south that the FAIRWEATHER has seen since March, the ship made its way to the last known location of the buoy. I stood watch on the bridge from 0400 until 0800 and no sight of the buoy had been taken on RADAR or by person. At about 0830, the buoy was spotted and operations to retrieve it were commenced. A smaller vessel with four crew members was launched to aid in the retrieval and the A- frame on the fantail was rigged to pull the large instrument aboard. By 0930 the buoy was captured and hoisted onto deck and by 1030 it was securely fastened to the fantail. The issue of pulling aboard several thousand meters of the buoy’s rope took several more hours after that. Whew!

The December 26, 2004 Indonesia tsunami “traveled at 700 kilometers per hour to rear up like a hydra onto shores, sweeping away some 225,000 lives and millions of livelihoods across 12 nations,” Madhusree Mukerjee reported in the March 2005 issue of Scientific American. That historic tsumani event raised a lot of concern regarding the early warning systems that are in place for tsunami events. Unlike the Indian Ocean, the Pacific Ocean is known to have a well established warning system in place, but efforts are being taken to ensure that we know as much as possible about possible tsunamis in the Pacific Ocean. Tsunami buoys are located extensively along the major coastlines of countries neighboring the Pacific Ocean and the data collected from those buoys is carefully analyzed and recorded.

Ships similar to the FAIRWEATHER, in the NOAA fleet, usually perform routine maintenance and retrieval of buoys. The FAIRWEATHER has been looked at for this purpose, but never actually engaged in the process. This is the first time the FAIRWEATHER has taken part in tsunami buoy retrieval.

Question of the Day 

What do the 2005 Indonesian tsunami, the Alaska 1964 earthquake, and hydrographic survey have in common?

Answer from Previous Day 

The best types of sea floor to anchor a ship are mud/clay or sandy, mud combinations. Firm sand is okay, but loose sand, soft mud, rocks, and grassy/kelp areas should be avoided.

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